Tuesday, April 14, 2009

On Boys

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Cindy at Dominion Family has been having some interesting discussions about boys over at her blog.

Since I am homeschooling a lone boy along with six girls, I am aware of the necessity to allow my boy to actually be boyish, to not act on my impulse to expect him to behave as my girls do.

My husband helps me in this area, because he is the rough and tumble sort. He encourages me to say "yes" when the boy asks if he can climb up on the roof to see how far he can see or if he can whittle a real arrow to go in the bow he fashioned from a stick and some old fishing line.

My husband has helped me to stop saying, "Be careful!" so much and start saying "Be adventurous!" and "Be brave!"

He has made me see that while we mothers like to say, "It's okay to play that way as long as no one gets hurt," maybe it's okay for boys to get hurt in their play. (Note: I'm not talking about serious injuries, here.) Maybe, just maybe, when boys get skinned knees or black eyes, they are learning lessons about how wise or foolish it is to steal the ball from older boys in the middle of a game of tag football.

While mothers are inclined to say, "No wrestling! Put that stick down! Don't climb up there!" I think maybe we should be letting our boys be adventurous even if it means a few scraped knees.

I remember when I taught in the public schools, an often repeated rule was, "Keep your hands to yourself." There was to be absolutely no wrestling, tugging, or rough housing of any sort. I can see the sense in that when there are hundreds of students on a single campus with a few teachers responsible for maintaining order.

I do think it is a shame, though, when boys are not allowed to playfully, or sometimes not so playfully, figure out for themselves what kinds of behavior are not warmly received.

For instance, if my son decides he would like to interrupt a game of tag football which he was not invited to play, by stealing the ball and running away with it, if I stop the activity to chastise him and make him return the ball, he may see it as another occasion when his mother spoils his fun.

However, if I don't intervene, and allow a chase to ensue and one of the boys tackles my son, wrestles him to the ground, bloodying his knees in the process of recovering the ball, has he not learned a valuable lesson?

I bet he would think twice about repeating that scene the next time a game of football is being played.

I think of the young David who kept his flock safe by wrestling and overcoming lions and bears. He had the strength and confidence to take on wild animals! Was it because he had been coddled and protected by his mother his entire life? Or had he been in scrapes before and learned to use his strength to his advantage?

While I am on the subject of boys and physical interactions, I may as well go ahead and alienate the rest of you by telling you that when I see little boys playing with their toy guns and I hear mothers say, "WE DON'T POINT GUNS AT PEOPLE! NEVER POINT GUNS AT PEOPLE!" I want to add the disclaimer, "except in instances where Somali pirates are holding an innocent captain of a U.S. vessel hostage or a mad gunman has commandeered an Amish school house. In that case, please, do point guns at people and hit your target with accuracy. That is the kind of gun control I can stand behind."

I'm just saying that I think we are making a mistake when we encourage our boys to be docile and gentle in all settings. There are some settings that call for rough and tumble. Will boys be able to step up to those situations if they have never encountered that before?

What do you think?


Lora Lynn @ Vitafamiliae said...

Am asking this question for a friend, as you know I've got my share of rough and tumble. How do you handle your boy not having any other boys to play with? My friend has one boy and lots of girls and she has no idea how to handle his exuberance. Her husband is helpful, but not able to be home enough to relieve all that energy. She doesn't want her son to treat her daughters the way he would other boys (like wrestling) but she wants him to be able to wrestle and rough house as necessary. Suggestions?

Smockity Frocks said...

I don't know, Lora Lynn. I'm in a similar situation. Even though I don't mind boys wrestling, I find that a lot of mothers don't want their sons horsing around that way, so that puts a damper on a lot of that energy getting worked out.

My husband does try to take our boy, just the two of them, on a lot of outings. They fish and spit and build fires together.

Sandy said...

great post! I'm discovering this myself some...since my boys are my third and fourth. My older boy is just 3, but is already daring, brave and willing to follow his Daddy anywhere...he even begged to go to Iraq with him. (my husband is Army)
My husband is often reminding me that boys are just different...and even though I *know* that...I often forget.

Kris said...

What I think is that you're absolutely right! I remember getting fussed at at a homeschool event in which my boy was accused of looking like a terrorist with his toy guns, swords, and ski mask.

He wasn't being a terrorist. He was being a Ninja warrior. And, he was being a boy with a group of other boys in a big, open gym full of homeschool families who knew everyone there and knew that we hadn't, you know, invited any terrorists. Why was that a problem?

Bethanie said...

I totally agree. really good post.

Amy said...

Yes, amen, ditto, ditto!!
As a mother of two boys, I firmly agree with everything you said.
Great post!

Brenda said...

Mom of all girls here (who would really like to raise a son, ya'll feel free to pray with me on that!:)

I agree. And I think I would have to be reminded of this too. I know an author who reminds homeschool moms particularly to not expect their sons to sit sweetly at the table under her tutelage all day. Yes. Boys and girls are different. We aren't just raising "kids", we are raising, son and daughters. Who will grow up to be men and women.

Great post.

Audra Krell said...

This post is right on and I love that you are willing to look at the way you are raising your son.
We emasculate our men, beginning when they are boys and then wonder why they aren't there for us. If we see them as strong, daring and brave when they are young, they will look for women that feel the same about them as they grow. They look for women who genuinely respect them, and when they receive that, they are able to freely love. As mother's we have been given much, and so much is expected. We can change the world by helping one young man see the truth, that he is glorious.

Lockwoods said...

I don't have much time to comment cuz I'm always having to do things such as pump, run to the NICU, feed starving children, wash clothes and the like, but I must say, I loved this post! The Lord has given you such a gift of writing.
love and prayers,

Lauramamadoula said...

I agree with most of this. I just also think that boys should be taught to play nicely and udnerstand what "no!" and "stop!" mean. I have a very active boy - plays hard, runs hard and loves ot be goofy and boyish. but he has friends who have 5 boys in one family and they gang up on him. literally! it's like they all think "woot! time to kick another kid!" or something. i'm sure they mean it playfully, but after being hit repetitively and then hitting back and saying "stop it! you are hruting me!" my son is a bit sick of playing with them. they don't understand "no!". he's no baby, either. my boy is rough and tumble... but being ganged up on by 5 rambunctious brothers kinda puts you in the inferior. ugh I never know what to do about that!

Lindsey in AL said...

Thanks for this! I have 2 boys and 2 girls (in that order) and I sometimes need to be reminded to let my boys be. My husband is good at it but I tend to forget. Our biggest problem with roughhousing is that almost 4 year-old sister wants in on the fun and she always gets hurt. We're working on that too (her getting in the middle of it, not the boys roughhousing in the first place :D)

One thing about the guns (and I am NOT being contentious) is that the "no pointing guns at people" thing isn't so much a namby-pamby thing as it is a "healthy respect for tools" issue. Our children know that guns are tools- for providing food, for protecting loved ones and property. My father-in-law grew up in the Depression and learned to shoot from his mother when he was a wee tyke (we have the very gun he learned with), but I don't think he ever had a toy gun. We see "don't point guns at people" more as hillbilly wisdom (the good kind!) than liberal brainwashing. But I totally get where you're coming from and it's the all-important other side of that coin. I just hope we're doing enough to raise our children (boys and girls) to understand that.
Bless you for dragging out so many important issues in one blog post- you are brave!- and on a blog called "Smockity Frocks" no less!!

Hollinger Family said...

My scenario seems to be the reverse of yours, lol. 5 boys, 1 girl. The boys are easy...active, busy, take things like respect and obedience at face value. The daughter (bless her heart & my patience) not so er, easy...active, busy, questions EVERYTHING
As for keeping boys active, sports of any kind (team effort or indiviual participation) are beneficial; and there are so many to choose from for any type of interest/personality.
My boy can "wrestle" as long as it is an outlet for energy and fun, not an outlet for anger or frustration... after all, as they grow up to be adults...can they tackle their boss, put him in a headlock, force him to "cry" uncle because they are mad at him? imho, lol.
great post, thanks for sharing!

Smockity Frocks said...

Thanks for your input, everyone.

I definitely don't want my boy to be a bully, and I have put a stop to play that I thought was crossing that line.

I just think that a mother's natural inclination is to intervene and to protect when maybe the boys could be learning a lesson, albeit a painful one, if mothers would let the boys work it out themselves.

On the guns, we teach and practice gun safety and, of course, I think that is VERY important.

The gun play I was meaning was when boys are playing cops and robbers or cowboys and Indians with their toy guns and I see mothers swoop in and put a stop to them pointing their toy guns at the bad guys.

keri said...

I think you are right!

AlaskaLark said...

I wholeheartedly agree with your post, but I have a question as well. Would your point of view not go with girls also? Is there anything wrong with girls wanting to climb up on the roof or go fishing or learn how to wrestle or learn how to use power tools? Isn't this a great way for girls to spend time with and learn from their dads?

Your blog is really nice and your Easter dresses were incredible! I appreciate how you bring scripture into your every day life.

Anonymous said...

This is so, so important. :)

I grew up with three brothers. I learned to let lots of stuff roll off my back. I learned, for example, that any kind of attention encourages a guy to do the same thing over, even if it's a glare.

My dh will tease me, I'll glare at him, because I understand the game. Then his parents will read him the riot act that "girls are different than boys and they take things differently". *sigh* If I wanted him to stop, I'd ignore him! LOL

I now have two boys who are my eldest. I let them walk on wide window sills, crumple dead flowers over my carpet, play in the mud occasionally, and do other things many other parents are agast over.

But they are boys. They want to explore, to experience, and experiment. I would rather they destroy easy-to-vacuum-flowers than sneak off and make some other mess ... I refuse to get mad at my boys every time they figure out a new way to make a mess!

They also come when called and are huge helpers. I have pretty obedient boys, truth be told. They aren't perfect, but no one is; not even Mommy!

I love having creative, adventurous and crazy boys and I loved your post. I agree 100%! :)


Kim said...

What a great discussion (both here and there)! I see this as a core issue in families where the firstborn is a boy and mothers tend to coddle & protect even more.

I also see this play out with irrational fears. Even my own boy is fearful of things that I am daily trying to work him out of. Teaching a child to be brave can be a difficult thing when our instinct is to protect them from everything that *could* cause them harm.

Remembering that we are not raising a child but rather raising a son who shall become man is so crucial to keeping a right perspective.

I hope you don't mind me linking to this from my blog as well :)

Holly said...

Hey Connie...

I agree with you. But I dunno...five sons might have rendered me certifiable by now. (?) I love raising boys.

Personally? I appreciate men who know how to be men - particularly those who are sharp shooters and Navy Seals (etc.) who are protecting our country!

Heather said...

So very true! My lone boy has five sisters and I have learned to cheer him on when he's trying to do handstands and I've been known to feign ignorance when he's slid down the stairs on a snow sled. He's got energy to burn! Whether it's the type of mark that WILL wash off or the type that won't, he's a boy and he's going to have them. We can teach when it's time to be gentle and polite but then it's ok to allow them to let loose, too.

Smockity Frocks said...

AlaskaLark, I don't think there is anything wrong with girls wanting to climb and get dirty like the boys do, but my boy always takes it to another level. The girls want to get the water hose out to make mud pies, but my boy makes mud balls and then constructs a trebuchet to fling them at the opposing "army" in a mud ball war!

The problem comes if I expect him to behave as the girls would and make nice respectable messes or always play at gentle, amiable make believe.

Anonymous said...

Hey Connie,

I agree with you and thanks I think I have forgotten that I agree with you and have been on my boys a little to much lately!

I have read some wonderful books on boys the last few years and they have brought home the point that society is feminizing our boys and with so many boys being raised by single mothers that it may get worse. Now I am not faulting single Moms they are hard working tough women it is just boys need male leadership and I am afraid they don't always get what they need.

My love for my little guys just bubbles up when they go out and get dirty and fight bad guys for me because it just seems right.

You guys take care!

Jerri your friend from Pampa that drives by your house and says I wish they still lived there.

Mrs. C said...

Oh, my goodness. The Somali pirate reference was just hilarious!

Ganeida said...

Well, I raised 3 boys & I figure nothing much will keep a boy dowm. I said no guns. The boys made bows & arrows that really worked & shot at each other through the scrub. They buit cities in tree tops & fished & crabbed, scraped their knees & their egos but they are wonderful men, hard working, kind, caring ~ all a mum could want ~ but they know how to protect & defend too & some lucky girl will find that a blessing.

Gombojav Tribe said...

Right on, right on!

I'm a mom of two girls and four boys! I totally understand you!

Owlhaven said...

Good thoughts....

Mary, mom to 10, including 4 boys who LOOOOOVE to stick-fight

gin said...

i have two boys ages 6 and 4 and a little girl almost 2. i always find it so hard to let them rough house...but you are so right! i have now turned their game-play (be it wrestling, star wars or whatever) into opportunities to defend their little sister! don't shoot mommy...she is being attacked by the bad guys! you two are partners fighting crime...go to it! or whatever else encourages them to work together and be (little) men. they are growing too fast, and even though i want them to sit in my lap forever...that isn't going to happen! thanks for your post :)

Nicki said...

Loved it! I had girls for NINE years before my boys came along. They are only 4 and 1 right now, but my world has been altered! Now I pretend that I don't notice people jumping on the couch and I know ALL the dinosaur names.

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